Blender not required
Rum used to be for sloshing with Coke or whirring into boozy slushies. Now that boutique distillers have their hands on it, it’s also for sipping
Rum has been swept up in the craft movement, and distillers are tinkering with wood aging and fancy cask conditioning to make all kinds of luxurious sipping options. Unlike scotch or bourbon, there are no strict rules for how to produce rum—yeast, water and molasses (or sugar cane juice) are fermented, distilled and aged—and the range is astonishing. In Toronto, a good place to start sampling is at Jen Agg’s Haitian party room, Rhum Corner, one of the first bars to seriously dig into the resurgence of rum (she offers more than 40 types). New on the scene is Miss Thing’s, a retro-cool Polynesian bar in Parkdale that ditches the kitschy tiki trappings. It’s not strictly a rum bar, but they pour a heck of a lot of it. Their umbrella cocktails are goofy fun, but we recommend a tasting flight for a serious epiphany. “Rums that are aged well are more like a fine cognac,” says Reed Pettit, who runs the bar. “You get all of the gingerbread flavour, and all the molasses, but without any of the alcoholic heat.” Once you nix the sugary rush of a mix, flavours like vanilla, banana, almond, boozy fruitcake, dark chocolate and even tobacco march forward.
Jasper’s Rum Punch
450 mL Brugal Añejo (or any mid-range amber rum)
450 mL Jasper’s Secret Mix (juice from 12 limes, 1¹/⁴ cup white sugar, 1 whole nutmeg, grated, and 45 mL Angostura bitters)
Stir together in a large pitcher, pour over crushed ice into chilled glasses, and garnish with lime curls (if you’re feeling fancy). Serves 10.
“It’s a classic Jamaican punch—sour, sweet and refreshing,” says Pettit.
At Home: Stock your bar cart with these excellent rums
Havana Club Añejo 3 Años
This is a basic vanilla- and banana-scented rum that’s great for building cocktails. It’s what you’ll reach for to mix a daiquiri.
Bacardi 8 Años
“Best all-round choice for your money,” says Pettit. Apricot and nutmeg make it nice for sipping, or as the base for a rum old fashioned.
Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario Rum
This top-shelf bottle, with its toffee aroma, is made for after-dinner swirling. Serve it in a rocks glass with a large chunk of ice.
2 thoughts on “Blender not required”
Best all-round choice will never be Bacardi. Within the lcbo limits Chairman’s Reserve is the best choice in that price category. Zacapa is far too expensive for what it is. A pretender that tries to fool people in thinking it’s much older than it really is. Young rum with loads of added sugar to take the burn away and make it seem ‘smooth’. Might as well buy a cheap after dinner liqueur. For that price you can buy 2 bottles of Appleton 12.
Late on the reply to this article, but agree with everything IDL said. “White” rum that’s aged (as is the Havana Club mentioned above), is aged to smooth the heat (remove unwanted congeners), then charcoal filtered to remove all of the colour – which also removes almost all of the natural rum flavour. What’s the point of that? Just drink vodka in that case.
There are two types of “burn”, the natural alcohol burn which anyone who’s accustomed to drinking non-diluted alcohol is used to, and then there’s the “burn” from poorly fermented alcohol. You should only get that nasty burn with generic mass-produced brands. Aging will remove the poor-quality burn and improve flavours, but a true quality spirit should be able to be drank unaged without that crappy tasting alcohol burn.
Barrel aging should be for adding/improving complex flavours. But people really need to stop relying on age statements to determine the quality of a spirit. Taste it for yourself, learn to get past that alcohol burn and absorb the true flavours of the base ingredient (molasses in this case) and appreciate the complexity added by the barrel. But if it’s not drinkable, then you’re probably drinking poor quality spirits.
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